Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in Freshwater - New OECD Report published

18 Oct 2023

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are widespread in our freshwater sources, raising significant concerns for wildlife, human and environmental health. In people, exposure to EDCs can lead to birth defects, neurodevelopmental conditions as well as negatively affect reproductive health. EDC exposure has also been linked to obesity and metabolic diseases in people. In wildlife, EDCs either affect their physiology, behaviour or health, particularly through alterations of the hormonal system, reproductive dysfunctions and the feminisation of male fish. Aquatic organisms are continuously exposed to EDCs when living in a contaminated habitat. Contamination can sadly also cascade onto other non-aquatic species through the food chain.

A new OECD Report ‘Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in Freshwater: Monitoring and Regulating Water Quality‘ calls for better understanding, monitoring and policy actions to prevent and remedy these emerging concerns.

The OECD Report aims to:

  • Characterise the state of knowledge about EDCs in water (surface water, groundwater, wastewater, reused wastewater, drinking water).
  • Prioritise traditional and innovative water quality monitoring methods, such as bioassays and non-targeted analysis, that are well equipped to capture the impacts of EDCs in water, based on good practices from OECD countries.
  • Explore policy responses to address the presence and impact of EDCs in water.

The OECD Guidelines for the Testing of Chemicals is a collection of about 150 of the most relevant internationally agreed testing methods used by government, industry and independent laboratories to identify and characterise the potential hazards of chemicals. The Test Guidelines (TGs) are a set of tools for professionals, used primarily in regulatory safety testing. They can also be used for the selection and ranking of candidate chemicals during the development of new chemicals and products and in (eco)toxicology research. ERGO researchers from University of Southern Denmark (SDU), Heidelberg University (UHEI) and University of Antwerp (UA) have been working on novel endpoints sensitive to chemicals that interfere with the thyroid hormone system in zebrafish. Once validated the novel endpoints will be included in existing OECD Fish TGs, enabling identification of chemicals acting as endocrine disruptors through the thyroid hormone system axis and in turn, improving water quality monitoring methods like bioassays and in situ wildlife monitoring.

Read the OECD Report Policy Highlights.

Read the full OECD Report online.